Galehouse and Wachholtz Were Drugged, Dismembered
By Cliff Dunn
TAMPA – On September 20, an indictment was handed down in the 2003 torture and murder of two gay Tampa Bay-area men. Although he was charged with other related crimes, and was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for his part in the grisly murders, Scott Paul Schweickert was never held accountable for the greater crime. The indictment, handed down by the Hillsborough County Grand Jury, charges Schweicke r t , 47, with two counts of First Degree Murder, in the deaths of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz. In December 2003, Schweickert— who had come to the Gulf Coast from Illinois—admitted that he and Stephen Lorenzo, a Tampa man, met Galehouse at the popular Club 2606, and lured him back to Lorenzo’s home.
Schweickert claims that he and Lorenzo, 53, drugged, tortured, and killed Galehouse, 26, then dismembered him and dumped his remains in trash bins around Tampa. The next night, they subjected Wachholtz—who was also 26 years old—to a similar fate. A search for the missing young men went on for weeks. The remains of Wachholtz were eventually found in his Jeep Cherokee, but investigators never found Galehouse. Authorities also found other men who had survived their encounters with Lorenzo and Schweickert.X
Lorenzo was charged with drugging nine men, while Schweickert was charged with drugging Galehouse, and for conspiring with Lorenzo. During Schweickert’s 2005 grand jury testimony, he described giving the victims Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), an intoxicant which can be employed as a daterape drug. He also testified to watching Lorenzo choke the men, and said he held Galehouse’s arms and legs while Lorenzo sawed them off. Lorenzo is currently serving 200 years in prison.
The Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office hasn’t said why it sought an indictment almost a decade after the murders, but experts cite a possible Miranda rights issue during the investigation as one possible explanation.
Defense attorneys said that Schweickert was never offered legal counsel during questioning, but investigators r e a s o n e d that because S chwe i c k e r t wasn’t in custody, he did not need to be read his rights.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court found that Miranda rights must be read during “in-custody interrogations,” when a suspect is not free to leave. That wasn’t the case for Schweickert.
Since neither Lorenzo nor Schweickert faced murder charges, prosecutors could not previously pursue the death penalty. The new charges may put capital punishment back on the table.